Creating the Perfect Hanging Basket

I’m a big fan of hanging baskets! They did go out of fashion for a few years or were associated with just older gardeners. But they’re back with a bang.

More and more gardeners realise the fantastic impact that a good hanging basket can have in a garden.

Judging by the flurry of activity at the CountryLife Garden Centre here everyone wants to get them planted up now so that they are in full bloom for when summer arrives.

When you work in a garden centre at this time of year you can always expect the same two questions. ‘What plants can I put in my hanging basket?’ and the second is ‘How do I keep my baskets watered?’.

To answer the first question as simply as I can, you can put anythingyou want in a hanging basket! Obviously there are a few rule you like to follow such as having taller plants in the center of your basket with trailing plants to the side. But really after this your only limitation is your imagination.

What plants work best in a hanging basket?

Traditionally people love to use petunias and trailing geraniums because they give such great display of flowers and colours. Fushia plants are always really popular too either mixed in with other plants or they can look brilliant in a basket all by themselves too.

We have small fushia plants and larger specimen plants available in store in a range of different colours and flower types, which can add great interest to a hanging basket. Similarly if you plant begonias up in a hanging basket by themselves they can look fantastic when you let them spill over the basket in a large cascade of flowers.

Begonias work very well in hanging baskets

Watering your hanging basket

Watering hanging baskets is one of the most important task when it comes to having successful hanging baskets. You never want to let your hanging baskets get dried out during the summer. The plants typically used don’t tolerate periods of drought.

To help with watering there are a few products on the market that can make your life a bit easier. Water retention gel is probably the most popular. You simply have to mix it into your compost at the planting stage and it will swell up when you water the soil and then slowly release the water to the plants as it is needed. You can even get special hanging basket compost in store that already has this water retention gel mixed in for you.

Malachy’s 9 Top Tips for hanging baskets

  1. Always use a good quality compost. Plants grown in smaller containers need a good start.
  2. Choose your plants carefully. Long flowering varieties with scent are always a good buy
  3. Plan ahead and plant up your basket indoors before hanging outside after the risk of frost has passed
  4. Give your plants plenty of room. Go for bigger baskets. Smaller, cheaper ones can dry out very quickly in hot weather
  5. Use perlite to reduce the weight of your basket and help aerate the compost, 1/3 perlite to 2/3 compost.
  6. Don’t forget your water retention gel
  7. Water your baskets regularly –particularly in hot weatherand feed them weekly with a liquid plant food.
  8. Keep an eye out for dead heads. Remove these to prolong your basket’s flowering season
  9. Trimplants when they start to look straggly. Again, this will keep your basket looking much healthier and more colourful for longer
Hanging baskets offer great colour in the garden